Stringfellow Acid Pits, USA

Labelled as the largest civil lawsuit in the nation’s history, pitting neighbours of the toxic site sued the companies that dumped there and the government agencies that allowed it


Description

The Stringfellow Superfund Site is located in the city of Jurupa Valley, California.

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Basic Data
NameStringfellow Acid Pits, USA
CountryUnited States of America
ProvinceCalifornia
SiteGlen Avon
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Waste Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Specific CommoditiesIndustrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsSince the Glen Avon lawsuits were filed, more than $50 million has been awarded to the 3,800 plaintiffs through out-of-court settlements involving General Electric, aluminum manufacturer Alumax Inc., quarry owner James B. Stringfellow Jr., and others. [5]

In the face of federal action, 18 of the largest corporate users of the dump agreed last summer to pay $150 million toward the cleanup of Stringfellow--a project that may cost upward of $750 million. The state of California was told to pay 75% of the final cost, a ruling that it is appealing. [5]

More than 400 active groundwater monitoring wells and piezometers at the site [6]

Groundwater near the former disposal pits is highly acidic with a pH as low as 2 [6]

Plume of contaminated groundwater extends about 5 miles from the former pits to the Santa Ana River [6]

About 35 million gallons of hazardous liquid industrial wastes were stored in the ponds at the Stringfellow site from 1956 to 1972 [3]. These were unlined ponds and spanned 17 acres [5]

Cleanup costs estimated at more than $300 million [3]

3,800 residents of Glen Avon sued potentially responsible parties (PRPs) [5]
Project Area (in hectares)6.9
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population4,000
Start Date01/01/1957
Company Names or State EnterprisesMcDonnell Douglas Corp from United States of America - PRP
Montrose Chemical Corp from United States of America - PRP
General Electric Company (GEC) from United States of America
Northrop Grumman from United States of America - PRP
Rockwell International from United States of America - PRP
Relevant government actorsEnvironmental Protection Agency (EPA), Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board, California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), State of California
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersCenter for Community Action and Environmental Justice, Concerned Neighbors in Action (CNA), Parents of Jurupa, Communities Against Toxic Wastes in Landfills
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingLocal government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Women
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.Court cases were won in favour of the community where companies responsible for dumping the waste were made to pay millions of dollars through numerous settlements. The wrongs were not made right physically, but there was monetary compensation for damages.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

Stringfellow Consent Decree 12-09-03 [6]
[click to view]

References

Toxic Waste Suit Settled for $18 Million : Environment: Glen Avon residents will receive payments for the dumping at Stringfellow Acid Pits. Agreement with aluminum firm is largest settlement yet in long battle.- LA Times June 4, 1991 [1]
[click to view]

Settlements Reached on Toxic Dump in California - NY Times Dec 24, 1991 [2]
[click to view]

Insurers Found Liable in Stringfellow Cleanup- LA Times May 17, 2005 [3]
[click to view]

State to Pay $114.5 Million for Cleanup of Toxic Dumps

Pollution: The agreement involving the Stringfellow and Casmalia sites ends legal battle. -- LA Times May 1, 2001 [4]
[click to view]

A Tainted Legacy : Toxic Dump Site in Riverside County Has Sparked the Nation's Largest Civil Suit- LA Times Jan 10, 1993 [5]
[click to view]

What Makes for Environmental Justice? Reconsidering Cases Written Out of the Narrative [7]

Brinda Sarathy Pitzer College, Claremont, CA Dec 3, 2011
[click to view]

Radical Housewife Activism: Subverting the Toxic Public/Private Binary by Emma Merchant 2014 [8]
[click to view]

Links

Passive Sampling Pilot Study Report: Stringfellow Hazardous Waste Site July 2009
[click to view]

Environmental Toxic/Tort: Newman v. Stringfellow
[click to view]

State’s $60 Million Stringfellow Acid Pits Win in High Court Could Cost Insurers Billions- August 2012
[click to view]

Other Documents

Photograph of Pretreatment Plant Source: EPA
[click to view]

6,000 gallon tanker truck bringing waste in Source: EPA
[click to view]

Pyrite Creek bed as it flow through Glen Avon community Source: EPA
[click to view]

Stringfellow Update May 2011 DTSC
[click to view]

Other CommentsThis is a Superfund site. More information about Superfund sites is available at http://www.epa.gov/superfund/
Meta Information
ContributorBernadette Grafton and Paul Mohai, [email protected] and [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update07/05/2015
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